The Road is the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy‘s novel by the same name. McCarthy, author of the book No Country For Old Men, which also made a successful leap to the big screen,  is known for his sparse style and engaging stories. The film adaptation of The Road is mostly proficient at adapting the book to screen, incorporating the novel’s sparse apocalypse landscapes and desperate characters very well. But while the book was engaging and full of tension, the film version is all but void of it. This makes The Road interesting, but not as engaging or as impressionable as I found the book to be. The film version is almost a word-for-word reenactment of the books’ most important plot points, leaving out some of the more controversial elements that gave the book a dark overtone. Indeed the movie is dark, but the tone is more washed out than anything emotionally compelling. That observation doesn’t mean that this movie isn’t sad. It is. It tugs at your heart strings with the father-son relationship it revolves around, supported by a seemingly endless amount of scorched-earth imagery to add something visual to the emotional feelings. But that is all that this movie really has going for it. It is an emotional experience, but not something that I would call thrilling or exciting, which is a shame because thrilling and exciting is the way the book version reads.

Synopsis: Set in the future, some sort of apocalypse has ravaged the planet. The forests burn endlessly, spewing ash into the atmosphere and covering everything in a thick coat of gray. Animals are all but extinct, as are humans. The story focuses on a nameless man and his son, wondering the wastelands looking for food, trying to stay alive. The only thing that keeps them going is the need to be there for each other.  Gangs of cannibals are the biggest danger, patrolling the roads looking for stragglers….the same roads that the man and boy have to follow in order to remain safe from the fires, earthquakes, and falling trees…

Acting: Great (25/25)

  • Viggo Mortenson as man: Superb – a very emotionally driven performance, Mortenson relays the struggle onscreen well. I’d say a great role for him to take, too bad I don’t think he will get enough credit for it.
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee as boy: Good – had good chemistry with Mortenson, but played the role differently than I pictured in the book.
  • Supporting Cast: Great – A few fantastic cameo-like performances. The lack of other characters is the only real drawback.

Script/Plot: Okay (17/25)

  • Dialogue: Good – Basically taken straight from the book, and in the book it is sparse and quick.
  • Script: Okay – Also has parts taken right out of the book. Not as compelling or thrilling though.
  • Plot: Okay – Not too much happens, but it is pretty straight forward. Some people may find it a little drawn out at times even though the movie feels short overall.
  • Themes/Messages: Okay – The most controversial elements in the book are taken out, which leaves some of the messages feeling empty in the film.

Direction: Okay (18/25)

  • Professionalism: Okay – Director John Hillcoat knows how to create likable and compelling characters, and frames the film well in front of the stunning scenery, but as far as creating an exciting viewing experience that brings everything together…not really.
  • Flow: Okay – Like the book, the action and dialogue is spaced out, but for some reason the film is not as engaging as No Country For Old Men was with its sparse action and dialogue.
  • Editing: Good – The movie moves forward seamlessly even with several flashbacks. It all makes sense and is easy to follow.

Special Effects: Good (21/25)

  •  Special Effects: Great – I don’t know how they made all the scorched-earth scenery and abandoned cities, but it all looks very good and very realistic, sends a chill down your spine.
  • Music: Good – Also dark, sparse, and chilling. Perfect for the movie, but not memorable or enhancing the entertainment factor at all.
  • X-Factor: Good – It is just another apocalypse movie, but it is an artistic piece where emotion plays a big role more so than any sort of action or sci-fi whizzbangery.

The Verdict: (81/100) = B-

  • What’s Good? Great acting and great scenery create a compelling emotional experience.
  • What’s Bad? The action is sparse, the movie feels short, and they left out or weren’t able to recreate much of what made the book so enjoyable to read.
  • Summary: The first indie apocalypse movie.

My previous review: Rated: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus